TOLEDO – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and numerous partners protected, enhanced or restored 7,765 acres of wetland and grassland habitat on 21 Ohio project sites in 2020, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.
The milestones in 2020 were achieved with field staff taking extra precautions and using creative solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acres conserved added to a sizeable historical investment in Ohio.
Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 101,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing more than $39 million in wetland habitats.
Partners included the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District. Funding sources included DU donors, Energy Transfer, the H2Ohio program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants.
“More than 90% of Ohio’s wetlands have been lost due to human development, from about 5 million acres to about 483,000 acres,” said Russ Terry, DU regional biologist for Ohio. “Our landscape-level conservation efforts help more than ducks.
"Wetlands benefit local residents by reducing flooding risk, improving water quality and boosting the economy.”
Highlights from 2020 include:
Toussaint Wildlife Area – Ducks Unlimited, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy updated the wetland management infrastructure at this popular wildlife area in Ottawa County. The 120-acre project improved coastal wetlands and restored fish passage.
Northeast Ohio – Since 2016, Ducks Unlimited has received two, $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants to protect and restore wetlands in 10 northeast Ohio counties. Combined partner funding resulted in the permanent protection of 4,300 acres and the restoration of more than 600 acres of wetlands, including 370 acres in 2020.
New public land – Ducks Unlimited provided funding assistance to Ohio Division of Wildlife to purchase 6,806 acres from American Electric Power to be added to a new public wildlife area that span parts of Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties.
H2Ohio achievements – Ducks Unlimited joined with the ODNR and more than 40 other organizations to implement H2Ohio, a data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure and prevent lead contamination across Ohio.
A major component of the plan is the restoration and enhancement of wetlands, which filter nutrients and reduce the impact of algae blooms. In the first phase of funding, the H2Ohio program allocated $7.9 million to Ducks Unlimited for six wetland conservation projects.
And see several of these projects from a duck's-eye view via DU's new virtual Interactive Aerial Tour at www.ducks.org/FlyDU.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.